Waste – I'm pretty rubbish at it
Everywhere you turn it seems that someone is talking about waste and it might have something to do with the great series on ABC called War On Waste. It has really opened my eyes to the outrageous waste situation in Australia.
Recycling and the general rules of waste management were things I was taught as a kid, but I never quite understood the impact it would have if I didn't do it properly. For many, myself included, it appears as if knowing the importance of the message is one thing, taking it in and incorporating this lifestyle is another.
In our current world full of technology and exciting advances, we’re a rather impatient bunch. We tend to expect things to happen at the drop of a hat (please pretend you read a more witty analogy here, although nothing will ever replace a good cliche). I think it’s just too darn easy to forget the aspects of the every day that have a detrimental and lasting impact on our planet. This is where poor waste management can take place because we don’t see the impact in real time.
Don't get me wrong, I'm still working my way through reducing my waste. It takes time to retrain the brain to be consciously aware of bad waste habits that may have formed. I've got a long way to go.
I thought I'd group together some of the facts that ABC’s War On Waste has taught me. Hopefully, it can be a quick insight into small habits we can change to help the planet live on.
Trash Facts (I wanted this to be a pun, but I'm rubbish at them
This was a clear unknown in our household. I was told that alfoil can be recycled but it needs be scrunched into a ball before doing so. I also need to constantly remind myself that everything that goes in the recycling needs to be clean and free of food, so keep that in mind as well.
Used Paper Towel
For some reason I thought these could be recycled (not ones completely full of food scraps, but more like liquid spills…) in hindsight – I probably just wanted it to be recyclable. I don’t know whether this was a large oversight on my behalf, or a common mistake.
A recent Instagram post from @bunnycatbunnycat_moo that I came across whilst scrolling through the #WarOnWaste hashtag, gave me magical insight into the fact that it cannot be recycled. BUT it shouldn’t be going to landfill my friends! It can actually be composted! which is great news for any avid paper towel users out there.
The soft plastic category is a bit wishy washy when it comes to recycling. It can’t be recycled in your council bin pick up. You can put in your general waste bin, but that's part of the reason we’re in this massive pickle, ain’t it!
So... what do you do with it? This was a question I was asking myself whilst watching the #WarOnWaste. According to the ABC, selected Coles supermarkets have partnered with a soft plastic recycling company called REDcycle.
This means we can take our soft plastic recyclables to selected coles supermarkets, and they’ll get recycled! How cool is that?!
This one definitely surprised me, and it’s probably one of the waste issues that I’m most guilty of. Hold onto your boots friends!
My food scraps currently go into the general waste and then go into landfill, but apparently this isn’t the ideal situation. Excuse my poor science skills, but from my understanding – when the food scraps are in landfill they start to release certain gases, which over time are extremely bad for the environment.
Therefore composting is the way to go with any food scraps. I’m starting my composting journey in the next few weeks, so I might keep you updated on any fun finds I make!
Plastic Straws & Cutlery
Just another form of plastic that gets used a ridiculous amount in our society. Myself included!
Take your food back to the office and use metal cutlery. Ask for no straw in your tequila and knock it back like the rebel you are at heart. It’s a quick change that can make a huge difference to the environment in the long run. It may take some retraining of the brain, but even the oldest dogs amongst us can learn a new trick or two!
Some handy recycling knowledge
The Scrunch Test
The scrunch test is about scrunching a piece of plastic you’re about to throw out in your hand. If it bounces back to the original shape, then it’s generally classified as hard plastic and can be recycled in your council pick up. If it doesn’t take its original form, then generally it’s classified as soft plastic and will most likely be applicable to take the REDcycle drop off points.
Please note: This test was explained on the ABC’s show, War On Waste. I've tried it and it makes complete sense, but it might differ from council to council.
You cannot recycle plastic bottles that have liquid in them. I was incredibly guilty of doing this, but I’ve changed my ways (I swear)!
ABC’s War On Waste explains that the reason plastic bottles need to be empty is due to the sorting process that happens at the recycling facility. Plastic gets shot up by a puff of air as part of the process and if the bottle has liquid in it then the air won’t carry the bottle where it needs to go. Empty your bottles people!
Speaking of plastic bottles. My understanding is that this doesn't have to happen everywhere, but it’s probably a good rule of thumb – bottle lids should go in the general waste, and the rest of the bottle in the recycling. Why? I hear you ask. That’s a good question.
Let this paragraph from SEUZ explain it for you:
“It is difficult to recover small, loose bottle tops from mixed kerbside recycling with sorting technology currently used in Materials Recycling Facilities (MRFs). However, technology is always improving, and we may be able to sort bottle tops more efficiently in the future.”
Keep an eye on your local council's website – they might update you when this change happens.
I love @cleansailingproject’s recent instagram post with the graphic saying “used once, lasts forever.” A simple saying to give a clear explanation of why the waste situation is so bad in Australia.
Keep an eye out for my blog post about some products that are on my list to buy, to help me reduce my #WarOnWaste.